Travel Postcard: 48 hours in Colombo

Fri Dec 5, 2008 7:04am EST
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By Pauline Askin

COLOMBO (Reuters Life!) - Got 48 hours to spend in Sri Lanka's capital Colombo? The city is the country's biggest and a major port, with a rich colonial heritage, gardens, lively markets, modern buildings and even a beach.

The heavy military and police presence in the capital, a manifestation of the government's battle against Tamil Tiger rebels fighting one of Asia's longest modern insurgencies, does take some getting used to.


9.00 a.m. - Breakfast at the luxury Cinnamon Grand Hotel, right in the heart of Colombo's business, shopping and entertainment district. Even if you're not staying there, the hotel is a good place to hire a taxi to take you around the city's many shopping venues.

10.00 a.m. - Head down the main Galle Road, and stop off at Barefoot (706 Galle Road) for its famous handwoven fabrics, toys, bags, handicrafts, antiques and clothing, including shalwars, the tunic and pantaloons outfits, in cotton and silk, and every color of the rainbow. The store is the brainchild of Barbara Sansoni, an artist, writer and designer who sources her work from rural handweavers in Sri Lanka.

11.00 a.m. - Head to House of Fashion (28 A De Mel Mawatha Road), popular with both foreigners and locals and offering an enormous selection of clothing at very affordable prices. It also stocks toys, baby items, bath towels and mats. It is always very busy, but checkouts are very fast.

12.00 a.m. - No trip to Colombo is complete without a visit to Odel Unlimited (5 Alexander Place), the most popular department store in Sri Lanka. Inside the beautifully designed interior are racks of designer clothing as well as jewelry, shoes, bags and cosmetics at good prices, and an excellent selection of locally made and designed t-shirts.

1.00 p.m. - Lunch at any of the several cafes and restaurants in the Odel building, which include a sushi bar and a tea lounge that also sells packages of Sri Lanka's famed teas.   Continued...

<p>Buddhists monks walk in front of the municipal council building as they proceed to attend an assembly in Colombo, Sri Lanka, October 30, 2008. REUTERS/Buddhika Weerasinghe</p>